What data do you really need for route optimization?

Data in route optimization: state of play, issues and best practices

At a time when logistics operations are becoming increasingly digital, industry players have become more aware of the importance of data. It is at the heart of digitalized processes and especially of route optimization solutions. Without it, business optimization would simply be impossible. This data comes from many different sources.

It is important to understand the difference between:

  • Data providing details on task orders
  • Data related to available resources
  • Data detailing the specific constraints of an activity
  • Data provided by the editor

Logistics operators are aware of the need to efficiently collect data related to their activity since they are the ones who provide the first three kinds of data mentioned above.

Data on task orders

Transport orders provide information on every delivery point in the tour. Among them, the delivery address is a key element. It must be as accurate and reliable as possible to create realistic routes. By using the wrong addresses, the optimization software will create inaccurate routes, making it difficult for the driver to find the right address.

The characteristics of the item that needs to be transported are also valuable: it can be the weight and dimensions of the package for a parcel delivery company or the type of service to be performed by the technician for a service company. This information is used to assign the right human and material resources (vehicles).

Finally, time slots for delivery are data that must be entered into the software so that they can be taken into account by the solution and fulfilled.

Data on available resources

Route optimization links the tasks to be carried out with the available resources (driver/delivery staff, vehicles). The latter must be entered into the tool, including the following information:

  • The number of delivery drivers with their work schedules.
  • Their location of departure and end of tour (in the parcel delivery industry, the departure and end of routes is generally at the warehouse; for technicians, it is often their home).
  • The type of vehicle with its size (length and weight), capacity and loading/unloading constraints. This can have several impacts: rearrangement of packages by size, speed limits, traffic restrictions and parking limitations depending on the vehicle, etc.
données optimisation de tournées data route optimization

Data on specific business constraints

Each industry may have very specific constraints that need to be taken into account to ensure feasible routes in the field. These may include:

  • Delivery facility constraints: some businesses have delivery frequencies and schedules, some facilities have limited simultaneous loading/unloading capacity and can only handle a small number of trucks at a given time.
  • Specific skills: technicians are more or less skilled in specific tasks. It is preferable to always send the same person to the same customer, the delivery of certain goods, like bulk items, requires several delivery personnel.
  • Regulations to comply with: some professionals must take regular breaks.

Data provided by the software publisher

In addition to the data provided by the customer, the software publisher, such as Kardinal, uses other data. Among them, the geocode of the addresses to be delivered. Geocoding consists in assigning geographic coordinates to a postal address, to create a digital map using a geographic information system (GIS) that will be used in route optimization. Thanks to this geocoding, the software will calculate the distances between each point and use them to estimate travel times.

However, these travel times can be strongly impacted by hazards occurring in the field, which are difficult to predict. Last mile logistics, especially in urban areas, are subject to complications and slowdowns due to traffic fluctuations. Road traffic has an impact on the organization and quality of service of logistics providers and must be included in route calculations for more realistic and efficient planning. Thanks to predictive traffic models used upstream of route calculations and real-time traffic monitoring, Kardinal’s route optimization solution ensures that routes are relevant and efficient when confronted with unforeseen events in the field.

The consolidation of all of this data ensures that routes are more relevant and consistent with the reality of the business and what is happening in the field. But how important is this data in reality? Does the absence or inaccuracy of this data have a real impact on routes? Can it prevent an optimization project from going ahead? Read the answers to these questions in our next article >>